Brief: The Wau Wau Sisters' Last Supper ~ theatre notes

Friday, March 04, 2011

Brief: The Wau Wau Sisters' Last Supper

The Famous Spiegeltent is back in its cosy niche in the Victorian Arts Centre forecourt, lighting up the grey environs with a pleasurable sense of liveliness and long queues. Beside the Spiegeltent itself, that beautiful remnant of the Weimar Republic where Marlene Dietrich herself once performed, there's an ancillary flotilla called the Spiegel Garden: an old W-class tram has been done up as a bar, which is surrounded by scattered chairs and tables. I can't think of a better place to spend a mild autumn evening.

This week the star attraction has been New York City's Wau Wau Sisters (Adrienne Truscott and Tanya Gagne), a wickedly funny double act that stirs burlesque, acrobatics and cabaret into an evening of full-on anarchy. Audience participation is part of the act, so be warned: I generally dislike it, since it is so often about humiliating audience members, but here it's done with such good-humoured sexiness that it becomes an invitation for the whole audience to be part of the show.

The show begins with some naughty hijinks performed to the famous Benny Hill music. It sets both the tone - "we're not just dirty," they tell us, "we're filthy!" - as well as what I'll call, for the sake of this review, its argument. Like the best of their burlesque sisters, they are the feminist answer to Benny Hill: the Wau Wau Sisters are the centre of attention, not decoration with boobs. They have all the punchlines, they control the audience, and they are unapologetically out-there polymorphous sex.

As the show's title suggests, there's a few shots at religion (their first act is a schoolgirl routine which they claim had them thrown out of their Catholic school). A lot of the fun here is about dressing up - they throw on their different costumes in front of us, both on stage and among the audience, and the audience members who are inveigled into their mayhem end up wearing all their costumes, as well as a couple of men who find themselves being unlikely fauns, complete with horns and hairy flanks.

As with much contemporary cabaret, it's all performed on the edge of collapse: the show generates the feeling that anything could happen, and that it could all go wrong, but doesn't. Truscott and Gagne are completely fearless performers, and the crowd just goes with them. They interleave their banter with songs and acrobatics, sometimes doing both at once: a highlight is a truly impressive aerial act in which they scramble about the trapeze at high speed, which is so well-coordinated that they seem like two halves of one body. There's a lot of art about this apparent anarchy. This is definitely an adult show, with red lights on nudity and foul language, so not for the easily offended. But for sheer, joyous fun it's hard to beat.

Picture: The Wau Wau Sisters doing a little bit of count-ry.

The Wau Wau Sisters's Last Supper, The Famous Spiegeltent, Victorian Arts Centre. Until March 6.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Love the red cowboy hat and tutu!